Radish season has arrived, but it doesn’t last long here in New Mexico. I bring this up because I’m growing radishes for the first time in decades and they’re being very cooperative, as garden plants go. The best way to know when to pick them is to brush away some of the soil at the bottom of the greens to see how big they are. If they are 3/4 of an inch wide or larger, harvest them. Old radishes are tough and don’t have much pungency. That mild pungency, by the way, comes from the same group of chemicals that causes horseradish, mustard, and black pepper to irritate your mucous membranes: isothiocyanates. Unlike capsaicin in chile peppers, which is impervious to hot temperatures, isothiocyanates break down quickly when heated, which is why if you like pungent mustard, buy only the ones sold that are in refrigerated cases. Radishes actually taste better when they are roasted. They make a small but really tasty roasted root crop. Cut the radishes in half, place them on a roasting tray, drizzle them with a little olive oil, and roast them at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
Roasted radishes are sweet and have and nutty flavor. They have no pungency at all.